Could Have Been

“Could Have Been” by Holly Sheidenberger

The danger between us is palpable.

He’s aged. His eyes crinkle and he’s grown a beard. But the connection between us is still perilously strong.

He takes my hand in both of his, and a thrill explodes inside me. The years have only made him more magnetic.

“I came to see you,” he says. “I need you to know . . . I loved you.”

My breath catches, my heart nearly stops. I knew already, but it still means so much. To finally hear him say it.

“You’re too late,” I hear myself say. “I’m sorry,” he whispers, tracing my jawline with his thumb.

His electric touch weakens my resolve; I turn away.

We walk, side by side but not hand in hand. I am racked with unappeasable hunger for him.

The silence between us is thick with the life that could have been.